Macaques and langurs
Favorite thing: We are both rather fond of monkeys and enjoy watching their antics, as I believe many people do. It is those “almost human” traits that make them so appealing I reckon. And on this trip we got several good opportunities to watch them in action. There are two species seen in Rajasthan – langurs and macaques. We saw both in various places including macaques near the Amber Fort, and in Bundi (where a troop woke us as they came through the town early in the morning in search of food), and langurs at Chittaurgarh, by the roadside on our way to Udaipur, in Narlai, and again in Bundi (where our guide told us they wait till the macaques have visited the town from their sleeping area on the mountainside and then head down there themselves). We had also seen macaques in Agra – on the city streets, at Itimad-ud-Daulah’s Tomb – even at the railway station!
The macaques seen here in India are Rhesus Macaques. They are brown or grey, with a medium length tail (usually a little over 20 cm) and a pink face. They live in large troops (up to 200 in number) and their native habitats are grasslands and mountains, but they have become very comfortable living alongside humans and are increasingly moving into urban areas, as we saw. And while we may find them cute and fun to watch, for the locals they pose something of a problem, stealing food and other items too. As they scavenged through the streets of Bundi we saw one local man raise a gun – not to shoot them, or even above their heads, but because they have learned (presumably because some have been shot) to run simply at the sight of a gun.
India’s langurs are Grey or Hanuman Langurs (the latter name taken from the Hindu god). They are a pale or yellowish grey with a black face and long tails (up to 100 cm and always longer than their body). I found them more attractive than the macaques, with expressive faces and the tail curled rather elegantly. Like the macaques they are increasingly moving away from their natural habitats, which include forests, mountains and grasslands, to more urban environments. I have read that Jodhpur alone has a population of around a million langurs! They are considered sacred in the Hindu religion and are therefore less likely to be regarded as pests like the macaques, although they do regularly steal food and crops.
Favorite thing: Spending so many hours on the road with Mehar I found myself becoming fascinated by the effort that goes into the decoration of lorries here. These humble vehicles are adorned with images such as the flag of India, flowers, rural scenes, tropical beaches – even, on one, a complex depiction of the Taj Mahal (photo two)! There are messages to fellow drivers too – to blow their horn (an unnecessary exhortation in India!), use their dippers at night and the mysterious (to us) “Wait for side”. It wasn’t always easy to grab good photos from the car but as you can see I managed to get a few – hope you enjoy them too.Related to:
- Road Trip
The faces of Rajasthan
Favorite thing: Anyone who has visited some of my other VT pages will know that I enjoy street photography and shooting candid pictures of the local people. Unlike many places we have visited, I found everywhere in Rajasthan that even if people spotted my camera they seemed happy to let me continue to snap away, only occasionally indicating that I should refrain from taking their photo. And many were happy, even keen, to pose for photos, like the woman in traditional dress in my main photo here whom we met in Narlai. In fact all of these photos were taken with the subject’s permission apart from the second one, which was snatched on the streets of Jodhpur.
We were also often approached with requests to appear in other people’s photos. We posed with young school boys in Chittaurgargh, a family in Jaipur, another family in a restaurant car park (see photo five - they all piled out of their minibus to pose with me!), fellow tourists in the Sahelion Ki Bari gardens in Udaipur and at Fatehpur Sikri. Mehar joked that we were becoming more famous than a Bollywood star!Related to:
- Road Trip
A tribute to Mehar, our driver
Favorite thing: We first met Mehar in Delhi, where, along with our guide there, Rajesh, he met us at the airport on arrival and the next day drove us around the city, coping admirably with the challenges of the manic Delhi traffic. He then drove down to Agra, meeting us off the train there the next day and driving us on our sightseeing tour there too. But it was only on the following day, when the three of us set off together on the long drive to Jaipur without an accompanying guide, that we started to get to know him. We were to find that when a guide was with us Mehar largely kept quiet and focused only on driving, but that once alone with him he would become not only driver but also unofficial guide, telling us a lot about the places we were passing through and about the way of life in India. We also learned about him and his family - his village in the north, his wife and children, his life as a driver. In return he asked us about England - what it was like to drive there (very, very different from India, we said), houses, lifestyle.
Throughout our tour he looked after us very well; he drove safely (by Indian standards!), recommend good places for us to grab some lunch or a cold drink (none of which caused us any health problems) and was always willing to stop for photos when we asked, and to spot good photo opps even when we didn't - antelopes, camels, farming activity, etc. He also added a few additional sightseeing stops not on the TransIndus itinerary, such as the Demoiselle Cranes at Khichan.
Mehar is not an employee of the tour company but a freelance driver, and he also arranges and leads tours himself. He doesn't profess to be an expert guide to the historical sites, where he instead arranges local guiding or audio guides, but he has more than enough knowledge about the many destinations of interest to tourists to be able to both organise a tour and provide general guiding and information as you travel, based on our experience. If you'd like to cut out the middleman and book a tour in northern India directly with an excellent and experienced driver, you could do far worse than contact Mehar via his website: http://rajindiatours.com/.
Our time with Mehar ended when he dropped us at the Tiger Den Resort in Ranthambore. We were sad to say goodbye to him, but very happy to see him again briefly when we bumped into him at the station in Delhi where he was picking up another couple of tourists who had been on the same train as ourselves. They will have had a safe transfer to their hotel, I am sure, but they weren't as fortunate as we were to have had the pleasure of travelling with and getting to know a great driver, Mehar Chand.Related to:
- Road Trip
Our tour of Rajasthan
Favorite thing: We originally planned on doing a group tour in India - not because we prefer travelling with a group (though we have enjoyed a few such tours in the past) but because my parents' frail health makes booking not too far in advance a priority and therefore organising a tailor-made tour somewhat harder. But when we contacted TransIndus about their "Rajasthan: Land of Kings" tour, which seemed to visit a good selection of major sights but also the off path places that interested us just as much, we were told that no one else had booked that tour for our chosen dates and that for an additional £125 per person we could do it as a private tour. We wouldn't have a guide to accompany us throughout, but would travel in a car between all the places on the route and have a guide in each. That seemed a good deal to us so we booked the tour and also a suggested extension to take in Ranthambore for (hopefully) some tiger-spotting.
The full itinerary covered:
Delhi - 2 nights
Agra - 1 night
Jaipur - 2 nights
Khimsar (a village with a heritage hotel in an old fort) - 1 night
Jaisalmer - 2 nights
Dechu (a chance to stay in a desert camp) - 1 night
Jodhpur (we didn't stay here but visited for the day en route between Dechu and Narlai)
Narlai (another village with a heritage hotel) - 2 nights
Udaipur - 2 nights
Bundi (a small town where we stayed in a lovely old haveli) - 1 night
Ranthambore - 2 nights
And back to Delhi - 1 night
The journey from Delhi to Agra, and the return to Delhi from Ranthambore, were by train. For the rest of the trip we had the same car and driver, the wonderful Mehar, who looked after us so well. Everything ran very smoothly. At the major destinations we were met by a rep from the local tour office, who welcomed us to the hotel and confirmed plans for sightseeing etc. In the smaller places (Khimsar, Narlai and the desert camp) we looked after ourselves, which of course we are quite capable of doing, and either explored on our own (Khimsar) or took optional excursions provided by the hotel (Narlai).
The guides were generally very good, with some exceptionally so, including in Agra where our guide Sourav proposed changing the TransIndus programme so we saw Taj Mahal earlier in the day before it got quite as crowded as it does later, and took us to a great spot on the far side of the river to see it at sunset, which wasn't on the programme. Similarly in Jaipur our guide added a walk in the spice market when we expressed an interest. The only place where we were less impressed by our guide was in Jodhpur - he messed Mehar around by making him pick him up at a hotel rather than meet us at the fort, so we lost time; he didn't allow us the time for photos that others had done; and was rude to other (Indian) tourists, pushing them out of the way so we could see things when we would much rather have taken our turn.
For the most part we were equally pleased with the hotels, which were mostly of a very high standard. Narlai was our favourite - I loved the fact that it hadn't been over-restored, and it had a great pool for relaxing as well as interesting activities and excellent food in its rooftop restaurant. I would like to have stayed an extra night there. We also loved the desert camp at Samsara, and Bundi Vilas Haveli. We liked the Tiger Den Resort in Ranthambore the least, and were also not so impressed by the Lalit in Udaipur, which looks impressive but lacks the facilities you might expect from such a grand hotel such as a pool and bar.
These are minor quibbles however, and I wouldn't hesitate in recommending TransIndus in general, and this tour in particular.Related to:
- Castles and Palaces
- Historical Travel
wonderful tour agency
Favorite thing: hi, i just came from rajhastan. i had an ajanda of my own but i changed it when i arrived in delhi after i talked to mr. rashed from the capital city travels and tours (phone 91-11-423150051). a friend of mine and myself paid $1520 for two people and we were provided a nice car with an english speaking wonderful driver who took us to many unbelievable places we did not even know about in new delhi, jaipur, agra, orchha, kajuraho and varanasi for 12 days day and night. the hotels with breakfast, agra tour, the elephant ride in fatehpur sikri and two boat rides (morning and evening) in ghatts in varanasi were also included in the price. we were greeted by tour guides in 3 of the cities whom we were not required to pay but we tipped. we stayed in hotels changed from old palaces like amar mahal in orchha, and usha bundela in khajuraho.we really enjoyed our trip and highly recommend the tour agency.
Fondest memory: people were poor but friendly, the traffic was chaotic but no accidents occurred, the food was different but very delicious and the places we visited were very old and dirty but fascinating... i've never seen drivers who were so patient and tolerant in my life and i traveled a lot, believe me.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
- Historical Travel
- Castles and Palaces
Free Wi Fi
Favorite thing: Most of hotels and guest house offer free WiFi but if you want to use laptops in long journey in trains you can buy dongle.
Fondest memory: I have been most of popular city of Rajasthan not only hotels even small guest house has free Wi Fi so before booking you room in hotel or guest house you should ask-----
Expert Guide to Rajasthan
Favorite thing: When going to Jaipur or anywhere in Rajasthan it is important to have a good driver. However waiting until you arrive will only yield to a confusing bombardment of options.
I can recommend to you someone who will make your trip completely enjoyable as he is an honest experienced guide and just a great person. His English is excellent and he hosts guests from many countries of other languages as well. His name is Vinod Bharadwaj and he has a web site http://gunjantravels.com . contact him by phone or email and you will see that your trip is off to a great start.
As he said to us on our first trip with him after a few days, "I am a kangaroo and you are in my pouch."
Fondest memory: Being with Vinod made sour trip extraordinary. He is the kindest, warmest person, and showed us a parts of India that can only be reached by someone who lives there. He made us fall in love with India, and we have been back 4 times.Related to:
- Business Travel
- Family Travel
- Road Trip
Rajasthani Folk Dance and Music
Favorite thing: The vibrancy of Rajasthan is never completely discovered until you engulf yourself in the music and dance of it. The rich folklore and culture has added some more sparkles to its glory making Rajasthani dance and music a treasured jewel in Indian culture.The art of Folk Music and Dances is popular amongst the Tribal people of Rajasthan. Folk Music and dances of Rajasthan arouse the desert in all moods. The spectacular beauty of the land of Rajasthan is elated with the Folk Music and dances performed by the native people.
Fondest memory: Khuri sand-dunes camp near Jaisalmer very nice Rajasthani folk dance frent of your dining table.About two hours defrent Rajasthani dance and music.Related to:
- Food and Dining
- Theater Travel
Desert house in rural areas
Favorite thing: This beautiful house in rural areas of Rajasthan on the way Jodhpur to Jaisalmer also can find in Western Rajasthan.The rooms are made in earthen style finishing with mud and clay.The roof as you will be able to see from the pictures is of local thatch.Around the house rock slab wall for safety.These rooms stay cool even in very harsh summers and remain warm in severe winters, betwen the Huts open air courtyard.The beds have been made by the local artisans in the traditional style.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
Favorite thing: The bulls are turning the main drive wheel in a circular motion which has cogs which interlock with a drive shaft which turns the main lifting wheel.
This wheel has a chain of iron pots which fill with water from the well and split it on a spillway from where it flows into the fields.
Fondest memory: This old Earlegasen system still in use by the Farmers of Rajastha.You can see around Udaipur rural areas on the way to Ranakpur/Kumbalgarh.Exactly the persian wheel also known as Rahat, where a number of small pots are attached to a long chain.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
Turban - The Crown of Rajasthan
Favorite thing: In the modern cities of Rajasthan you may not find many people using turbans but in rural areas you will find all the people using turbans. Rajasthan is known for the beauty and elegance of its colourful turbans.Each colour has its own importance and significance like Ochre is the colour of the mendicant, while the saffron is commonly worn at the time of weddings.Rajasthan each caste have their own distinguishing colours.Seasonal Turbans, Different Turbans For Different Festivals.The turban's size and shape is influenced by the climatic conditions of the different regions. Turbans in the hot desert areas are large and loose. Farmers and shepherds, who need constant protection from the elements of nature, wear some of the most voluminous turbans. They also have many practical functions.
Fondest memory: Turbans are of two categories mainly.
PAAG, (22 meter's by 6 inches) which is tied once and worn like a cap till the material gets dirty.
SAFA, (10 meter's long & 1 meter wide) which is tied every day.
A safa (turban) is much more then just an item of headgear to protect the wearer from the sun's heat.By it's shape color, and size, it tells you a great deal about the man, such as where he comes from, what he does for a living and his position in society.It was traditionally considered an essential part of man's clothing and to appear in public without one was a sign of grossly bad behavior.The colour pattern and style of tying the turban vary according to community, religion, and even district.Thus it is said that the style or men's turban changes every 12 miles in Rajasthan.Turban tying is considered a fine art.Men who have mastered it take great pride in the fact.Some colors and patterns are seasonal, such as white, and red phalguniya turban that is worn in spring.Others signify family circumstances, for instance, the dotted chunri pattern or bright colours signify a marriage or birth of a child.On the other hand, colors like dark blue, maroon or khaki signify a death in the family.Wearing the wrong type of turban under the wrong circumstances can make one an object of ridicule.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
life is hard here but great too ..
Favorite thing: 1. Keep in mind that train systems is always not punctual as it is outside India.
2. Would adivise you to stay in hotel/resort of RAJASTHAN. Govt. These are
cheap and safe at the same time.
3. Keep full stock of water with you.
4. Raj. govt. has taken lot of initiative to strengthen the confidence of travellers in raj.
Please use govt. service, this would help govt. in maintaining and improving security of travellers.
Best wishes ...
Fondest memory: I was born here .. missing it every moment while living outside.
Electricity shortage ! when there is light in metro .. people will start criping abt everything as if they have done all the justice to the nature. To me power just reminds me of my early days where we used and lived only by the SUN/moon light ... or merely light which is generated while cooking of food using the natural resources .. people say this cause problems/polution etc.. I believe they should spend 1 year entirely using only the natural resource , this will increase days to ur life span and would be helpful for nature too.
Rajasthani Culture is different
Favorite thing: The Ghoomar dance from Udaipur and Fire dances of Jaisalmer have their own distinct style and portray the cultural heritage of Rajasthan. The music is simple but compelling, and the dances depict personal relationships and daily life, often focused around collecting water from wells. Female dancers twirl while balancing up to 6 pots on their heads. The grace and balance displayed in these whirling dances is breathtaking. The top most pot has a fire burning in it.(It is often called Fire-Dancing)
Folk music is also a vital part of Rajasthani culture. Folk songs are commonly ballads which relate heroic deeds and love stories. Religious or devotional songs known as bhajans and banis (often accompanied by musical instruments like dholak, sitar and sarangi ) are also part of the repartoire.
The songs are plaintive, and even if one does not understand the words- the story told through the dance is easy to understand and follow.
Fondest memory: The Colours, Music and Dancing are so completely different from the other states in India.
Rajasthani turbans are tied in distinctly different ways, and the colours of the turbans usually are indicative of caste.
Rajasthani traditional dress for women is usually an ankle length skirt and a short top, known as a choli. A shawl is used to cover the head, both for protection from heat and maintenance of modesty. Rajasthani dresses are in bright-in colours of yellow, orange red and blue. The women are graceful, and they have amazing posture- even in old age.Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Castles and Palaces
Rajasthan - Land Of Desert
Favorite thing: Recently, I visited Rajasthan, a state of India popularly known as land of desert and as "Place of Rajput Warriors".
When i reached rajasthan i found the state many times beautiful then my expectations. The cities in Rajasthan i visited
were Jaisalmer, Jaipur, Udaipur, Mount Abu, Pushkar and Bikaner.
The Places in Rajasthan that attracted me were desert in jaisalmer, jaipur City Palace, Hawa Mahal, Udaipur Lake Palace, Fateh Sagar, Mount Abu Dilwara Jain Temple, Nakki Lake, Pushkar Brahma Mandir and Bikaner Junagarh Fort, Karni Mata Temple.
I had collated a lot of information while planning my trip through this website rajasthan.gajeebo.com a complete rajasthan travel information guide
“Rajasthan” a land of tradition and customs with ancient monuments and palaces has always attracted me and my visit proved to be awesome.Related to:
- Castles and Palaces
- Family Travel
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